After a first and second admonition, have nothing more to do with anyone who causes divisions, since you know that such a person is perverted and sinful, being self-condemned. – Titus 3:10-11 (NRSV)
Have you ever caused divisions? What did you do? Did people offer you the chance to repent? Did you? What happened? Have you ever admonished someone who was divisive to stop for the sake of everyone? What happened? How is someone who does not stop “self-condemned”?
A couple of nights ago I had a dream. It was one of those long restless dreams that make us feel groggy when we wake up, like we didn’t have any sleep at all. In the dream I did something awful and was caught in the midst of my wrongdoing by a group of good friends. What they caught me doing shocked them because my action hurt them badly. In a testament to their friendship they begged that I apologize.
I didn’t, I refused, and even though I knew I had done wrong I thought, “Who are they to tell me to apologize.” My pride got in the way just as it often does in my waking life. Again they begged me to apologize in order that we could move on, in order that the person I hurt the most could get over the pain. In my refusal things turned from bad to worse, a fight ensued and the division I had caused only got worse until I was all alone.
It was just a dream, and yet so often such things happen in the real world. The late British writer Charles Williams once penned the words, “Many promising reconciliations have broken down because, while both parties came prepared to forgive, neither party came prepared to be forgiven.”
In my dream I refused to be forgiven, because I refused to admit I had done wrong (even though I knew that I had), and all I then did was make people hurt worse. I ended up all alone, and in that way I suppose I can see how someone who causes divisions is being self-condemned; all alone due to a pride that keeps him from accepting forgiveness.
These words to Titus are still good for us to remember, because sometimes we are the ones causing the division.